Ryman North: Hornchurch manager Jimmy McFarlane excited about Thurrock derby

PUBLISHED: 12:57 03 January 2017 | UPDATED: 12:57 03 January 2017

Hornchurch manager Jimmy McFarlane (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

Hornchurch manager Jimmy McFarlane (pic Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo)

©TGS 1376 553468

Urchins travel to second-placed Fleet aiming to move back into play-off positions with a win

Jimmy McFarlane is looking forward to watching Hornchurch kick-off 2017 with a hugely anticipated derby at Thurrock in the Ryman North tonight.

Urchins head to Ship Lane in excellent form having last tasted defeat to East Thurrock, of the National League South, in the Essex Senior Cup on November 8.

Fleet, meanwhile, have won their last five matches in all competitions and not lost in the division since November 19.

McFarlane said: “These are the games you train for and it’s a big one. I watched Thurrock last week and they are a better side than they were last year.

“I’m looking forward to it. We are both in great form too and it is 16 matches without defeat for us in the league and league cup.

“But in local derbies the form guide can go out the window as we see in the Premier League so it all depends on who wants it more.”

Hornchurch faced Thurrock three times last season and the results demonstrated how evenly matched the two teams were.

Fleet beat Urchins 2-1 at Ship Lane in the first contest before a goalless draw occurred at Bridge Avenue.

But Hornchurch had the last laugh with a 2-0 success at Thurrock in the play-off semi-final in April.

It suggests tonight will be another tight contest and the winner could be whoever holds their nerve.

“Our discipline has been good this year and the only red we have got is Junior Luke’s at Wroxham I think,” said McFarlane.

“We need to stay focused and let our football do the talking because referees do sometimes get wrapped up themselves when it’s a local derby.

“They can be a bit over zealous and dish our unnecessary cards, but I’m really looking forward to tonight and can’t wait.”

Hornchurch head into the game following a 1-0 win over local rivals Brentwood on New Years Eve.

Leon McKenzie scored the only goal midway through the second half from the penalty spot to take his tally to 21.

“It wasn’t our best display of the campaign, but this is the type of game we’ll look back on at the end of the season,” said McFarlane.

“You don’t look at the Aveley match (December 23) because we dominated and fully deserved that victory.

“But we weren’t at the races against Brentwood and we still managed to grind out a scrappy win.”

Another positive for the Bridge Avenue club was the return of Tobi Joseph following a double leg-break suffered just over a year ago.

The attacker was introduced at Brentwood with 13 minutes remaining for his first appearance since December 5 2015.

McFarlane added: “It was brilliant to have Tobi back. We asked him to go easy and typically he was straight into a challenge.

“I’m chuffed for him because I know just how hard he has worked to get back so I’m really delighted.”

Joseph is set to be part of the Hornchurch squad at Thurrock this evening, but will be among the substitutes again.

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